Browning Recognizes Two Esteemed Educators

Two of our esteemed educators were recognized for their excellence in teaching. Congratulations to our 2016 Chairholder recipients, Ms. Bosworth and Mr. Keany. Play video to learn more.

On the evening of November 9, The Browning School celebrated new Chairholders Mary Bosworth and Sam Keany. Ms. Bosworth, recipient of the 2016 Stephen M. Clement, III Chair for the Humanities, joined Browning in 2004 and is a Middle and Upper School history teacher. Mr. Keany, 2016 recipient of the STEM Chair, has taught at the School since 2001 and is Chair of the Science Department and Dean of Students.

The Stephen M. Clement, III Chair for the Humanities was established in 2009 to honor Mr. Clement's 20th anniversary as Headmaster, while the STEM Chair was first awarded in 2014 to honor a faculty member who advance the School's missions in supporting science, technology, engineering and math. Both chairs are awarded for three-year terms.

Head of School John Botti and past Chairholders Michael Ingrisani, Gerald Protheroe and Aaron Grill, along with the recipients’ families and members of the Browning community, past and present, feted these esteemed educators at a reception in the Kurani Gym.

See Ms. Bosworth and Mr. Keany's remarks below the photo gallery.

Mary Bosworth
Recipient of the 2016 Stephen M. Clement, III Chair for the Humanities
Remarks, November 9, 2016

Thank you very much for this honor and the kind words. Browning has many magnificent teachers, and it is humbling to be the recipient of the Stephen M. Clement, III Chair for the Humanities. If the purpose of the humanities is to enable students to reach their full potential as human beings, it is worth considering for a moment what it means to be human.

The Rockefeller Commission expressed it beautifully: “The humanities… reveal how people have tried to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense of a world where irrationality, despair, loneliness and death are as conspicuous as birth, friendship, hope and reason. 

According to Socrates and Plato, virtues or courage, temperance, justice and wisdom are the excellences of a human being. These virtues are powers. And those who will be most fully human will be most virtuous. 

At Browning, we aim to provide students with the knowledge and experience that will allow these qualities to blossom, so that a Browning gentleman has strength of body, mind and heart.

And speaking of heart, the wisdom the ancient Greeks aspired to was not a dry, analytic-only intelligence but one that included love for all one’s fellow human beings.

Plato affirmed the feeling of unity to be the greatest good – that a society could only flourish where the common humanity was appreciated. He said, “And there is unity where there is community of pleasures and pains – where all citizens are glad or grieved on the same occasions of joy and sorrow.”

At first blush, this may seem overly idealistic – but it can be made eminently practical. In considering yesterday’s election, it becomes clear that no side won anything; the real victory will be if we come together and find common ground.

But this is not easy. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The reason the world lacks unity and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself.”

So we need to open up to a larger world. And lest anyone consider unity a dull concept, consider this: “Unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation.”

Each of us has a unique part to play in life – a part that can be fulfilled beautifully only in harmonious interaction with others. 

At Browning we want our young men to live large lives by expanding their circles of awareness.

Albert Einstein spoke of this. He said: “A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe... He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings and all of nature.”

This is the purview of the humanities: to help us understand what it means to be human. Our work at Browning is to gain a glimpse of that possibility and to allow that vision to become reality. The work is never finished. Thank you very much for this honor.

Sam Keany
Recipient of the 2016 Stem Chair
Remarks, November 9, 2016

First, thank you to everyone for being here.  And thanks to Steve Clement and the Board of Trustees for the creation of the STEM Chair and the Clement Chair for the Humanities, both of which recognize the critical place that academic learning has in the life of a Browning student.

In his New York Times column last week, Tom Friedman discussed the current economic recovery. In this context he described how the best jobs in the future will require more “STEM-pathy.” Now as an expression, I’m not a big fan of “STEM-pathy” – as a jargonistic mashup label it sticks in my throat a bit – but I do see where Tom is coming from. All manner of jobs now require, and will increasingly in the future, some degree of comfort with science, technology and math. But the value-added nature of these skills comes when there is a clear understanding of how they serve human society. 

Recently we had an Upper School Admission Open House, and I was talking about our science program with the guests. Naturally I crowed about the strong STEM graduates that we are sending to great programs, such as Georgia Tech, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Lehigh and Caltech, among others. The success that these boys experience is a testament to their training and excitement in the STEM education they received at Browning. And we can be rightly proud of them and of our efforts. These boys are the poster children of STEM education, and that’s all well and good. But I make clear to those parents how important it is for every Browning graduate to be scientifically, analytically and technologically literate.

It is also important that our boys recognize the interplay between the STEM fields and the humanities. What better event to celebrate this!

STEM fields can very, very easily become mired in the specificity of their languages – math, coding, abstract physical variables. At Browning, I think that those of us teaching these subjects find many ways to maintain the connection with the human world. And I think we do it well. Project-based work in all three divisions is part of this. Science and math teams and hackathons are part of this. Collaborations between departments are part of this. And this is what Tom Friedman is getting at when he talks about STEM-pathy. At Browning we get it, and my colleagues make it happen day after day. 

Education Week Research reveals that an average of 40 percent of high schools in the United States do not offer physics. In New York State the number is 46 percent, and in California it is 52 percent. These statistics are shocking to me as a science educator.

Clearly at Browning our boys are so very fortunate. But outside this community, this is the time to double-down on STEM education, and this is definitely the time to double-down on supporting the growth of empathy in our students in the face of numerous challenges.

I look forward to partnering with Mary Bosworth, our new Clement Chair, and all of our talented colleagues who are working in the same direction, to help our boys broaden themselves in all directions, developing their STEM-pathy, in all dimensions.

And I think that will be the last time I use Tom’s mashup.